Park View Educational Trust
Park View Educational Trust was responsible for the running of three schools in Birmingham which became embroiled in the ‘Trojan Horse’ investigations involving, amongst others, Ofsted and the Education Funding Agency. Faced with an unprecedented level of media interest, the Trust commissioned Communitas to provide reputation management advice and support.
What started off as a local story rapidly escalated into a national and international one, drawing in several government departments and the Prime Minister David Cameron. It culminated in a full-scale enquiry led by Peter Clarke and a series of Education Select Committee hearings looking at Extremism in Schools.
The so-called Trojan Horse affair centred around allegations that governors at some of Birmingham’s schools were trying to impose an Islamic curriculum and ethos on what were community schools.
Communitas provided a 24/7 press office service, dealing with a constant and growing list of allegations against the governing body from all quarters of the media. We prepared an ongoing rebuttal document for the media, working with the governors to address each allegation point by point. As the story unfolded, with investigations announced by Ofsted, the Education Funding Agency and Birmingham City Council we worked with the team on proactive press statements to put their side of the story. We also set up interviews with The Guardian, Observer and Independent on Sunday, as well as broadcast interviews with the BBC for them to do this.
As individual members of the governing body were getting door-stepped we provided advice and statements. The Communitas team prepared presentations for public meetings and ongoing updates to parents and other stakeholders. Despite doubts persisting over the truth of the Trojan Horse allegations, the intense ongoing interest in the schools and the governing body led them, ultimately, to resign.
We prepared statements for this, enabling the team to articulate the huge improvements they had helped to bring about at failing schools and that they been subjected to vicious and co-ordinated pressure to resign from the Government. Communitas organised a televised press conference where this was announced (earlier in the contract period we arranged a first televised press conference for the governing body to give their reactions to damning Ofsted reports).
The levels of media interest that the Trust received were quite outside anything we had ever experienced. Communitas acted as the point of contact for all media calls, fielding and dealing with enquiries late into the evening and at weekends. They were professional, responsive and calm which is what we needed.